‘Ted Lasso’ S2, Ep4 – ‘Carol of the Bells’ Review: “It’s Christmas in Richmond”
What would be a comedy sitcom without a Christmas episode? Ted Lasso is here to deliver Christmas in August in the most charming Christmas episode. The show itself is nothing if not self-aware of what it does in each episode. “Carol of the Bells” is not the exception. In true to the Christmas spirit, Ted Lasso treats its viewers to the heaviest dose of optimism and joy this show has offered so far.
Expectations of narrative struggle are foregone in this episode of Ted Lasso. There’s an air of respite, as the episode plays more like a romantic comedy, filled with all the tropes we’d see in The Holiday or Love Actually (actually referenced in the episode). Perhaps what counts as the narrative conflict in this episode is whether some gestures are romantic or strictly platonic.
True to form and in the spirit of Christmas, the episode finds Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) leaning on one another once again. Only this time, it’s Rebecca who lends herself to support Ted after his divorce and to spend Christmas away from his son Henry. If there’s anything this show does well, it’s callbacks to its narrative.
Rebecca shows up at Ted’s window with a tinseled message saying “Hi Ted” (calling back Ted’s own “Hi Boss” moment from season one) and brings him along to distribute toys to children less fortunate. There’s a symbiotic relationship between Ted and Rebecca that is not explicitly any one thing yet. However, moments like Ted noting the biscuits remind Rebecca of home conjures images of something more profound. Perhaps romantic? Or perhaps not. Either way, their easy banter and care for one another only add to the magical spirit of this episode.
On the other side of town, Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley (Juno Temple) serve their own kind of magic. Roy’s charming niece Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield) has to spend Christmas with them this year. In a strange turn of events, Phoebe’s breath causes real medical concerns for Roy and Keeley. It’s not Phoebe’s condition, which we find out it’s the new antihistamines she’s taking for her cat allergies, that becomes the resounding moral of the episode. It doubles back to the thesis of the show: “be curious, not judgemental.” This is where Love Actually comes in, in the most charming reference of the card stacking scene Andrew Lincoln performs at the end of the film.
How does Ted Lasso include almost every cast member and still weave together a poignant Christmas episode? Well, in the most Ted Lasso way possible. Thanks to Ted’s new influence in the club, Higgin’s (Jeremy Swift) annual Christmas invitation to players who can’t return home for the holidays gets exponentially more crowded. The Higgins household becomes the epicenter of love and community for these players. In the most genuine part of the entire episode, Higgins conducts a speech that echoes a lot of what the show is trying to get across.
It’s not about the relentless optimism that makes this show great. It’s about growth. Watching these characters grow from their mistakes and misfortunes is the crux of this show. It’s in Rebecca’s gesture of companionship towards Ted. Or Keeley’s influence on Roy, which keeps his more irrational side at bay. Finally, the way audiences are treated to a new side of Higgins. A Higgins who flourishes under the love of his family and under the newfound love for the players of Richmond.
The episode ends with Rebecca performing a rendition of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” with Ted. Once again, continuity. Wonder if Waddingham is now contractually obligated to sing at least once every season. Whatever the case may be, it’s a deep end to a magical Christmas episode that is sure to be played on Christmas day every single year. – Mariana Delgado
Ted Lasso Season 2 episodes premiere every Friday on Apple TV+.